Staying Healthy During Winter– Can You Get Your Dog Sick?

Ask yourself if you’ve ever been in this situation before.

You’re just about to drift off to sleep when suddenly you feel a familiar tickle in the back of your throat. Your stomach sinks knowing that when you wake up in the morning, your tonsils will be inflamed and your head will feel foggy.

In just a few short hours your mild symptoms erupt into a full-blown head cold. You call in to work quarantining yourself from other humans and taking comfort in your bed.

But what about that precious pup or cuddly kitty who simply see all this as an invitation to join you for a nice little nap? Are they safe from contamination or in jeopardy of catching your cold?

Below we’ll explore ways to protect pets from a few common illnesses that can successfully make the jump from human to animal.

Can My Cat or Dog Catch My Cold?

Adult humans average about 3 colds per year (according to the CDC) and children usually have even more.

Though there are roughly 200 different strains of the “cold” virus, none can be contracted by your pooch. Still, you want to be sure your symptoms are truly the result of a cold and not a strep throat or influenza virus. Dogs can, however, spread cold bugs to one another so keep them away from any other mutts that seem to have the sniffles.

Cats, on the other hand, can catch your cold directly so be sure to keep yourself quarantined for at least the first three days.

How Do I Treat My Dog’s Cold?

If your pet does catch a cold, the remedies are similar to those for humans. Chicken broth has antibacterial properties, which both soothe going down and provide energy to help heal. You can also use a humidifier to help with congestion and administer certain kinds of vitamins and homeopathic supplements. Of course, the best way to ease symptoms is to make sure your dog stays hydrated and gets plenty of rest.

Which Other Illnesses Can My Dog Catch from Me?

Stomach flu and strep throat are unlikely to pass between humans and animals; however, there is some evidence that it can happen. To be safe, it’s best to keep your distance for a few days until you’re fever or vomit-free.

Other illnesses are highly contagious and can be transferred relatively easily. Consider sending Fido or Fluffy to stay with a loved one if you suspect you have or are diagnosed with any of the following:

  • Mumps: Watch for swollen glands or loss of appetite.
  • MRSA: Thoroughly clean all shared surfaces with bleach to prevent spread.
  • Salmonella: Avoid giving your pet food scraps if you suspect it has spoiled.
  • Tuberculosis: This is rarely treatable and usually fatal by the time your pet starts showing symptoms.

Though it’s unlikely you’ll share something like the common cold with your dog, as the saying goes, better safe than sorry.

If you feel an illness coming on, put off snuggling for a few days and push those fluids until you’re on the mend again!

Photo Courtesy Flickr/Matt Cooper

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